Jan 2, 2017

Channel Surfing: The Mick - "Pilot"

Kaitlin Olsen
Welcome to a new column called Channel Surfing, in which I sporadically look at current TV shows and talk about them. These are not ones that I care to write weekly recaps for and are instead reflections either on the episode, the series, or particular moments. This will hopefully help to share personal opinions as well as discover entertainment on the outer pantheon that I feel is well worth checking out, or in some cases, shows that are weird enough to talk about, but should never be seen.
The year 2017 is only two days into its existence. There hasn't been much time for people to create their own pop culture memories, especially as they look back fondly on the year that was. However, things must go on and Fox has already released one of the very first new shows of the year: The Mick. Following the journey of a negligent aunt (Kaitlin Olsen) who takes care of her relatives following their parents fleeing the country, the story is a brash comedy focusing on the difference in class systems as well as how they're pretty similar. Considering that Olsen has been doing excellent work for over a decade on It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, it makes sense to give her her own show. The question is more if it was worth it.
There's an astigmatism that comes with releasing something so early in the year. By December retrospectives, its easy to forget that they existed. In fact, one of Fox's first series last year was Bordertown: a poorly animated attempt to look at race relations through Family Guy-esque offensive humor. The show didn't last, but more reflects what kind of dumping ground the early days of the year provide for TV fans. They're essentially watching your show because everything else is in reruns. With limited exceptions (see: Bob's Burgers), The Mick's debut is to be met with a cautionary tale that escapes whatever quality the show actually has.
What is thankful is that Olsen is genuinely funny no matter what her set-up is. She has mastered the ability to self-effacing and rude without turning the humor into aggressive insult territory. Instead it is a wonderful balance of being the bully and the victim. Few actresses have mastered the art of comeuppance with such disturbing charisma as her. When given her own show that allows her to escape the bullying of pros like Danny DeVito and Rob McElhenney, she manages to hold her own against a new cast that sees her play a sleazy lower class woman forced to behave for high society.
The first episode is largely set-up for what's to come. Even then, there's a cleverness to the writing that turns the familiar insult gags work as a character trait. Everyone is to some extent mean to each other in typical It's Always Sunny fashion. However, the episode slowly finds its heart once the story falls into place. The children are spoiled brats, but they're also innocent in their cluelessness. There's a sense that Olsen will play mentor to the new family and make them into strong individuals that don't rely on posh attitudes. At least, that's based off of the many memorable scenes that pop up throughout the episode.
It may be scrappy and takes awhile to get to where it needs to go, but it definitely is a welcomed surprise. It may have trouble escaping Olsen's veteran show - especially with Fox likely providing more content restrictions than FX - but it may also show a different side to her as a comedian. There's already a few gags in the premiere that couldn't be done elsewhere. If nothing else, Olsen's ability to play a drunk with both high slapstick moments and emotional subtext in other scenes. The show already feels like it has an unassuming heart that will develop by the season's end. The only hope is that the show manages to last that long. Considering what else is on in January, that may not be too much of a problem. 

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